Methamphetamine, or meth, is a dangerous drug with a high potential for addiction. A synthetic derivative of amphetamine, meth is categorized as a stimulant.
When a person uses meth, the drug triggers their central nervous system to release a flood of a chemical known as dopamine. This chemical is involved with feelings and functions such as pleasure, reward, mood, behavior, and motivation. The elevated dopamine levels that result from meth abuse can lead a person to experience a dramatic boost in both mood and energy level. When these effects wear off, a person can “crash,” or plunge into what feels like a depressive state.
The pleasurable effects of meth abuse and a desire to avoid the crash can compel people to abuse the drug multiple times in rapid succession. This can quickly lead to meth addiction, which increases a person’s risk for considerable physical and psychological damage.
It is no overstatement to note that meth abuse and addiction can have devastating outcomes. But this drug’s ability to cause grievous harm has not led to significant reductions in its popularity. For example, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), meth and similar substances were involved in 5,526 overdose deaths in the U.S. in 2015. By 2019, the annual number of meth-related overdose deaths had risen to 15,489. This represents a 180% increase in just four years.
There is a glimmer of good news about meth addiction: It is a treatable condition. When a person who is dependent on methamphetamine receives the proper type and level of care, they can learn to manage the symptoms of meth addiction and build a foundation for successful, long-term recovery.
Signs & Symptoms of Meth Addiction
People who have been abusing meth may attempt to hide evidence of their behaviors. But the powerful impact that this drug can have on virtually all aspects of someone’s life can make it difficult for them to keep their meth abuse a secret for very long.
The following are possible signs and symptoms of meth abuse and addiction:
- Bursts of energy, followed by profound exhaustion and lethargy
- Elevated heart rate and body temperature
- Rapid breathing
- Being restless, jumpy, or jittery
- Exhibiting dramatic mood swings, from euphoria to depression
- Acting with uncharacteristic aggression and violence
- Engaging in impulsive, risky sex
- Staying awake for extended periods of time
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Losing interest in topics or activities that used to be very important
- Stealing money or participating in other crimes
- Neglecting their appearance, grooming, and hygiene
- Extreme dental damage
- Scabs and sores that never seem to heal
- Losing a significant amount of weight
- Prioritizing meth use over their personal and professional responsibilities
- Continuing to use meth even after they have experienced negative outcomes due to previous use of the drug
- Needing to abuse methamphetamine to experience joy or cope with sadness
- Wanting to stop using meth, but being unable to do so
Meth Addiction Statistics
Meth addiction can have an isolating impact on a person’s life. It is common for people who have developed an addiction to meth to believe that no one could understand what they are going through, or care enough to help.
The truth is that if you have a meth addiction, you are far from alone.
The following statistics about meth addiction are from a March 2020 report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These statistics about meth were collected over a three-year period, beginning in 2015:
- About 1.6 million adults in the United States used methamphetamine in the previous 12 months.
- Experts estimate that 8.7 of every 1,000 men in the U.S. used meth in the past year. Among women, the rate of past-year meth use was 4.7 per 1,000.
- The lifetime rate of meth use among people of all genders is 59.7 per 1,000 adults.
- About 52% of the adults who used the drug in the previous year had meth addictions.
- Among those with a meth addiction, only about 31% received any addiction treatment services during the past year.
- Among those with a meth addiction, 57% said they had a co-occurring mental health disorder.
- About 22% of adults who used meth in the previous year said they had injected the drug at least once.
- Among adults who reported past-year meth use, about 27% said they used the drug more than 200 times during the previous 12 months.
Potential Effects of Meth Addiction
Meth abuse and meth addiction can have significant negative impacts on a person’s physical, emotional, and social well-being. The following are examples of the potential effects of meth addiction:
- Job loss and frequent unemployment
- Dangerous weight loss, to the point of malnutrition
- Hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia
- Damage to the liver, lungs, kidneys, and brain
- Exposure to HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other bloodborne diseases
- Physical harm due to violent or reckless behaviors
- Medical problems due to poor self-care or lack of appropriate healthcare
- Onset or worsening of co-occurring mental health concerns
- Being arrested, fined, or incarcerated
- Destroyed relationships with friends and family members
- Social withdrawal and isolation
- Severe financial problems
- Loss of hope for the future
- Thoughts of self-harm and suicide
- Higher risk for early death
The effects of meth addiction don’t follow a predictable pattern. Abusing meth even once can be extremely dangerous, and even deadly. The longer a person continues to abuse meth, the greater their risk becomes for serious, permanent harm.
However, when a person enters a hospital or other type of treatment center for meth addiction, they can immediately reduce the likelihood that they will experience continued negative effects. While they are in treatment, they can begin to repair any damage that they have already experienced.
It is also important to understand that you don’t have to “hit bottom” or experience some predetermined amount of pain before you can get help. The moment you realize that you are struggling with an addiction to meth is the moment you should start to seek care that can change your life for the better.
Benefits of Treatment for Meth Addiction
Research indicates that most people who struggle with methamphetamine addictions are not getting the help they need.
There are many reasons why a person might not get treatment for a meth addiction. They may not be ready to admit they have a problem. They might not know how to find a treatment facility. They may even believe that they are beyond help.
But once a person overcomes these obstacles and gets professional care, their life can get much better. Here are just a few of the many benefits of receiving treatment for a meth addiction:
- While you are in treatment, you will be in a safe place where you won’t have access to meth or any other dangerous substances.
- During treatment, you can work with skilled professionals who can provide meaningful support.
- You may receive both medical and therapeutic support to help you get through meth withdrawal.
- You can learn how to identify the triggers that can undermine your recovery.
- You can develop strategies for avoiding these triggers or responding to them without using meth.
- If you have been living with a co-occurring mental health disorder, you can receive effective care for that concern too.
- You can discover the benefits of sharing support with other members of the recovery community.
- You can reconnect with your unique skills, abilities, and talents.
- You can connect with community-based services that can support your continued progress after you have transitioned out of treatment.
Types of Treatment for Meth Addiction
At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, every person who receives meth addiction treatment follows a customized plan. Depending on each person’s specific needs, their plan may include elements such as the following:
- Basic medical care
- Medication management services
- Meetings with a psychiatrist and psychiatric nurse practitioners
- Individual therapy
- Family therapy
- Living skills group
- Recreational therapy group
- Process group
- Goal setting group
- Medication education
- Education about coping skills and triggers
- Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Before a person completes their time at our hospital, we will also provide them with a detailed discharge plan. This plan can guide them as they continue to progress in their recovery.
How to Find the Right Meth Addiction Treatment Center
There is no such thing as one perfect type of treatment for everyone who has a methamphetamine addiction. Addiction impacts different people in different ways. When you are evaluating meth addiction treatment centers, you should focus on finding the provider whose services and approach align with your needs and goals.
When you are speaking to a representative of a hospital or meth addiction treatment center that you have been considering, you may want to ask questions such as the ones listed below. The answers you receive can help you determine if that facility is the right place for you:
- Does your methamphetamine addiction treatment program include personalized treatment planning?
- What types of therapies and support services do you offer?
- How will you determine which therapies and services are right for me?
- Can I complete detox at your facility?
- How will you decide how long I need to remain in treatment?
- Can I receive care for a co-occurring mental health disorder at your hospital or meth addiction treatment center?
- What are the qualifications of the professionals who provide care at your hospital or center?
- How will you prepare me for long-term success after I complete meth addiction treatment at your hospital or center?
- What happens if symptoms return after I complete treatment for a meth addiction?
Representatives from any reputable hospital or meth addiction treatment center should be happy to answer these and any other questions.
At Maple Heights Behavioral Health, we want to be sure that every prospective patient has all the information they need, so that they can make the best decisions for themselves. If you ever have any questions about meth addiction treatment or any other element of care at our hospital, please do not hesitate to contact us.
This content was written on behalf of and reviewed by the clinical staff at Maple Heights Behavioral Health.